Building Strong Self-Belief: 12 Tips & Worksheets (+PDF)

man smiling - How to Build Self-Confidence and Self-Belief (Definition + Quotes)

“Whether you think you can or whether you think you can’t, you’re right.”

Henry Ford

This classic quote from automobile magnate Henry Ford is a perfect lead into this piece. The topic is self-confidence and self-belief, two ingredients to a healthy and happy life.

According to Ford, your belief in yourself is a determining factor in your success.

Was he right? Read on to find out!

Before you read on, we thought you might like to download our 3 Self-Compassion Exercises for free. These detailed, science-based exercises will not only help you increase the compassion and kindness you show yourself but will also give you the tools to help your clients, students or employees show more compassion to themselves.

What is the Meaning of Self-Confidence and Self-Belief?

The researchers have a tough time agreeing on what, exactly, self-confidence is. Some say it’s simply believing in yourself, while others go into more detail about your expectations for and evaluations of yourself and your performance.

For non-academic purposes, however, we have a pretty solid definition; this definition comes from the Psychology Dictionary Online:

“Our self-assurance in trusting our abilities, capacities, and judgments; the belief that we can meet the demands of a task.”

This definition works pretty well for the average person and is easy to understand. To be self-confident is to trust in our own abilities and believe that we can do what we set our minds to.

As you can see from the definition, self-belief is a necessary—but not sufficient—component of self-confidence. You must have at least some degree of self-belief to have self-confidence, but simply self-belief does not necessarily guarantee you self-confidence.

Along with characterizing your beliefs about yourself, self-confidence is a trait that permeates your thoughts, feelings, and actions. Think about a confident person you know; now, think about how you know this person is confident. You can’t get inside their head to know how they feel about themselves, so you base your judgment of their self-confidence off of their words and actions.

To be truly self-confident is to exude confidence in your words and actions in addition to believing in yourself and feeling capable.

The Psychology of Self-Confidence and Self-Belief

Three of the most influential theories that have shaped our knowledge of self-confidence are William James’ self-esteem “formula,” Bandura’s Self-Efficacy Theory, and Deci and Ryan’s Self-Determination Theory.

Thanks to William James, we learned that self-confidence is an important predictor of success. His formula for self-esteem (a related, but slightly different construct than self-confidence) proposes that it is built on the foundations of two elements:

  • How we feel and what we believe about ourselves (our self-confidence/self-belief)
  • How well we actually perform (our successes; Nayler, 2010)

This concept was not a new one, but James was one of the first to lay it out in detail. The idea stuck and influenced the work of another important theory in the area of self-confidence and self-esteem: Bandura’s Self-Efficacy Theory.

Bandura’s theory states that self-efficacy is built on one’s beliefs in the likelihood of future success; those who believe they have the ability to influence the events of their lives have high self-efficacy, while those who feel they are not in control and have little to no impact on what will happen to them in the future have low self-efficacy (Bandura, 1977).

Self-efficacy is focused on current beliefs about the future; while self-confidence is also concerned with beliefs about the future, there is a definite link to the past—after all, our self-confidence is built on our past experiences.

Deci and Ryan’s drew from Bandura’s work to create their own theory on another “self-“ construct: self-esteem. Self-Determination Theory posits that we are all born with an inherent drive to explore our environment and thrive, and that self-esteem is a result of humanity’s basic needs being met:

  1. Relatedness
  2. Competence
  3. Autonomy (Ryan & Deci, 2000)

This theory expanded the boundaries of the self-confidence/self-esteem literature by adding in the needs component; when our needs are met, according to the theory, we have all the ingredients necessary to experience healthy self-esteem and to grow and flourish as a person.

Based on these three theories, and countless other reports, articles, and studies by other researchers in the field, we have been able to put together a more coherent picture of what self-confidence is. It is a sense of belief in oneself and feeling assured of your own abilities and chances of future success, and it is in large part based on your past experiences.

We explore this further in The Science of Self-Acceptance Masterclass©.

Self-Confidence vs. Self-Esteem

woman arms up high - The Psychology of Self-Confidence and Self-BeliefSo, although self-confidence and self-esteem have crossed paths at many points and share some common features, they are considered two distinct constructs.

Self-esteem is a fairly stable trait that doesn’t change much in individuals—unless they put in some dedicated effort to improve it. It can generally be defined as our beliefs in our own inherent value, worth, and how deserving we are of love, happiness, success, and other good things in life.

By contrast, self-confidence does not take into consideration any beliefs about the worthiness or overall value; rather, it focuses on the ability to succeed and beliefs about one’s likelihood of succeeding.

The two are certainly related, but it is easy to see where the line is drawn between them; self-esteem is about the success you feel you deserve, while self-confidence is about the success you feel you are capable of achieving.

The Research on Self-Confidence

Research on self-confidence has provided us with valuable insights that apply to a wide range of life domains. Check out the findings in each of the seven topics listed below.

Using Therapy for Self-Confidence Issues

Among other forms of therapy, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) has proven useful in increasing self-confidence. The goal is to change dysfunctional thinking patterns and replace them with functional, healthy thinking patterns.

Four main techniques may be used in CBT for self-confidence:

To learn more about how therapy can help you build your self-esteem and self-confidence, click here.

The Importance of Believing in Yourself

Not only does it simply feel good to believe in yourself, self-confidence and self-belief also bring about other desirable benefits.

Research has shown that those with high self-confidence enjoy:

  • Better overall health, because they deal with stress and difficult emotions better.
  • More time for their families and friends, since they tend to set healthy boundaries and leave work at the office.
  • Better relationships thanks to healthy boundary-setting and ability to focus on improving relationships.
  • Improved performance at work through better ability to concentrate and greater commitment to tasks (Hawbaker, n.d.; Ray, 2017).

In addition to these benefits, Dr. TC North lists 12 benefits that come from boosting your self-confidence. Not all of them are backed up by lots of research, but they all seem like likely outcomes of greater confidence in yourself:

  • Improved coping and thriving under stress
  • Better ability to influence and persuade others
  • More leadership and executive presence
  • Increased positive attitude
  • Enhanced sense of feeling valued (by yourself and probably others as well)
  • Improved performance at work
  • Being perceived as more attractive
  • Reduced negative thoughts
  • More fearlessness and less anxiety
  • Greater freedom from social anxiety in particular
  • Increased energy and motivation
  • Greater levels of happiness

Low Self-Confidence and Self-Limiting Beliefs

On the flipside, when your self-confidence is low, you generally get the opposite of the benefits listed above: you struggle in your relationships and at work, you don’t feel very happy, you don’t cope well with stress, and you probably lack energy and motivation.

You may also suffer from self-limiting beliefs; these are beliefs that limit or constrain us in some way, and keep us from thinking, saying, or doing the things we want to do and the things that can help us grow.

These self-limiting beliefs generally fall into one of these categories:

  • I do/don’t – limiting beliefs regarding how we define ourselves.
  • I can’t – limiting beliefs in terms of our self-image and self-efficacy.
  • I should/shouldn’t – limiting beliefs that keep us stuck in self-judgment and even self-shame.
  • I am/am not – limiting beliefs that center on what we are or are not (e.g., “I am intelligent” vs. “I am stupid”).
  • Others are/will – limiting beliefs that focus on other people and what we assume they are thinking.

If you find yourself falling into any of these traps, then you’ve come to the right place! Keep reading and you will see some useful tips, suggestions, exercises, and worksheets that can help you boost your self-confidence.

Self-Confidence and Belief in Sport

As you can probably imagine, research has found that self-confidence and self-belief are incredibly important in sports. In fact, it’s so important that a meta-analysis of self-confidence and sports performance found an effect size of .24 (Woodman & Hardy, 2003). This can be interpreted (roughly) as saying that self-confidence accounts for about 24% of the variation in performance!

The meta-analysis was based on 48 separate studies, and also found some other interesting findings:

  • Although cognitive anxiety over performance was also significantly related to performance, its effect size was much smaller than that of self-confidence: -.10.
  • Self-confidence and anxiety have a much stronger influence over the performance of men than the performance of women, although this could be an artifact of measurement or a small sample size of women (Woodman & Hardy, 2003).

These findings back up what coaches everywhere have been saying for decades: some form of “you’ve got to believe in yourself to succeed.”

The Role of Self-Confidence in Relationships

Belief in yourself plays a huge role in relationship satisfaction—both your own and that of your partner.

A 2013 study by researchers Erol and Orth investigated the effect that self-esteem has on relationship satisfaction and found that an individual’s self-esteem is a significant predictor of his or her own relationship satisfaction as well as the relationship satisfaction or his or her partner. This effect was observed in five separate studies and across relationships of all lengths between people of all ages.

Those with a healthy level of self-esteem generally have a secure attachment style and enjoy greater satisfaction in their relationships—especially when they are in a relationship with another high self-esteem individual.

The effect of self-beliefs on relationships is so significant, it can even indicate altered ways of thinking about your partner.

A study of this topic found that those with low self-esteem are less able to integrate positive and negative thinking about their partner, and tend to fall prey to “all-or-nothing” or black and white thinking—either their partner is wonderful and their relationship is amazing, or their partner is a pain and their relationship is awful (Graham & Clark, 2006).

The Importance of Self-Confidence in Leadership

As you might expect, self-confidence is very important in leadership. Some go as far as saying, “without confidence, there is no leadership” (Dao, 2008).

Leadership requires confident decision-making, bold but measured risk-taking, and commitment: three things that those with low self-confidence generally lack or lag in.

As Dao notes, self-confidence is also important for employees to see in leaders; nothing boosts an employee’s belief in the organization and their own contributions than seeing confidence and similar belief in the organization’s leadership.

In fact, self-confidence was identified as one of the defining characteristics of leaders in an influential early study of leadership (Mowday, 1979). It’s clear that effective leadership requires at least a minimum level of self-confidence.

The Benefits of Self-Confidence in the Workplace

Although self-confidence is vital in leaders, it’s also important for the rank-and-file.

A healthy sense of self-confidence can result in many benefits relevant to the workplace, including:

  • Greater optimism
  • Ability to run meetings effectively and confidently
  • More effective delegating
  • A greater sense of autonomy
  • More frequent promotions and higher positions
  • Higher pay and more frequent pay raises (RIVS, n.d.).

If all these benefits sound great to you, perhaps it’s time to invest in your own self-confidence?

3 Examples of Healthy Self-Belief

Healthy self-belief is not narcissism, bragging, or boasting. Rather, it is a realistic but optimistic evaluation of yourself and your abilities and a sense of trust and confidence in yourself.

Examples of healthy self-belief and self-confidence include:

  • A woman goes on a date and has a great time; she feels like she and her date clicked and is looking forward to hearing from him. When he doesn’t call within a few days, she refrains from falling into a negative thought spiral and instead thinks, “Maybe he just isn’t the type of guy who calls right away. Or, maybe we just aren’t right for each other. I had fun and that’s what matters!”
  • A man is looking for a job and sees a posting that has several requirements; he meets most of them, but he doesn’t quite reach the cutoff on a couple of them. Instead of passing it up and assuming he would never get an interview, he applies anyway and explains how he has other traits and qualifications that make up for any lack in the requirements in his cover letter.
  • A student is interested in taking an Advanced Placement class at her high school and talks to her friends about it. Those who have already taken the class tells her it’s really hard and that she probably wouldn’t pass. She could trust in their judgment and pass up the opportunity, but instead, she holds firm in her belief about her own abilities and signs up anyway.

Common Characteristics of Self-Confident Individuals

It’s pretty easy to spot self-confident people; in addition to signs like the ones above, there are plenty of other signs that indicate a person is confident and self-assured, including:

  • People who are self-confident do what they believe is right, even if they are mocked or criticized for it.
  • They are more willing to take risks and “go the extra mile” to get what they want.
  • They are able to admit when they’ve made a mistake and learn from their mistakes.
  • They wait for others to congratulate them on their accomplishments instead of bragging and boasting.
  • They accept compliments with grace and gratitude (Mind Tools Content Team, 2016).

In addition to these more general signs, there are some signs that are specific to relationships; partners with self-confidence are:

  • Less likely to be jealous and controlling.
  • Willing to be vulnerable.
  • Comfortable and willing to set healthy boundaries.
  • Willing to admit when they’re wrong.
  • Comfortable assuming their crush or their date likes them.
  • Less likely to blame themselves if the relationship doesn’t work out.
  • Assured of their own ability to make good decisions.
  • Unlikely to show off or brag about themselves.
  • More likely to accept responsibility for their actions and emotions.
  • Willing to leave bad or unhealthy relationships (Alexis, 2014; Altman, 2014).

12 Tips for Building Self-Confident Skills

woman smiling - Common Characteristics of Self-Confident Individuals

So, how do you become one of those people described above? It isn’t necessarily an easy road, but you will likely find it more than worth the effort. Below are some tips on building your self-confidence and boosting your belief in yourself.

The team from the Mind Tools website listed several tips and suggestions for improving your self-confidence based on where you are in your journey:

  1. Preparing for Your Journey
    a. Take inventory of what you’ve already achieved.
    b. Think about your strengths and weaknesses (but especially your strengths).
    c. Think about your goals and values.
    d. Practice stopping negative self-talk in its tracks and replacing it with positive thinking.
    e. Commit to the journey to self-confidence!
  2. Setting Out
    a. Identify and enhance the knowledge and skills you need to succeed.
    b. Focus on the basics—don’t get bogged down in details or reaching for perfection.
    c. Set small goals and achieve them to “pile up successes.”
    d. Keep working on your positive thinking and self-talk.
  3. Accelerating Towards Success
    a. Celebrate your successes.
    b. Keep yourself grounded.
    c. Assess your current level of self-confidence and identify what strategies you can use to keep building it up (2016).

If you hit a roadblock on your journey to self-confidence, don’t worry! They happen to everyone. Try to get back on track as soon as you can. You may find the worksheets and activities listed later in this piece helpful.

Games to Build Self-Confidence in Children

Although we generally try to teach children self-confidence through compliments, praise and giving them concrete experiences of success, there is another fun way to help them develop greater confidence: playing games!

Not only will they be more engaged and interested in building self-confidence, you might actually have some fun too. Give these two games a try with your child and see if they make a difference.

Catch the Compliment

Ann Lodgson describes the game Catch the Compliment as a fun way to help your child build their own self-esteem and self-confidence and to learn to respect others as well.

Here’s how it works:

  1. Gather a selection of soft, lightweight balls for the game. Beach balls, foam balls, and soft playground balls may work best. In a stitch, you can even wad up some newspaper or make a ball of tape.
  2. In a large, open area (with breakables removed) gather the players into a circle. You can play inside or outside, it doesn’t matter.
  3. Players take turns tossing one ball to different players in the circle. As each toss is made, the tossing player gives the receiving player a compliment.
  4. The receiving player then tosses the ball to someone else, again, giving a compliment as the ball is tossed.
  5. If desired, gradually add more balls as play continues. This will increase the pace and the level of challenge to players as they try to think of compliments to give.
  6. At the end of the game, take time to ask players what was most difficult for them, what was easiest, and what was the funniest thing that happened during the game. Ask players to explain what they had to do to be successful at the game. You will find that listening, looking, thinking, and other skills will be mentioned.

This is an easy game that can be played with children of all ages—they just have to be old enough to catch a ball and give a compliment!

You can read more from Ann in her article here.

Positive Experiences

This fun game for kids can be played with friends, family, or both. It’s another easy activity with some very simple rules.

Follow these guidelines to play:

  1. Get the kids to sit in a circle and give them one index card each.
  2. Ask the kids to write their names on top of the index card and put it in the bowl. Shake the bowl to mix the cards.
  3. ass the bowl around and let the kids pick one index card. Ask them to write one positive thing about that person. They pass the card to the next person and the next until everyone has written at least one positive thing about that person.
  4. Collect all the cards and put them back in the bowl.
  5. Give the cards with their names back to the kids and let them read the positive things people have to say about them (Gongala, 2017).

This is one of those games that everybody wins; each kid will walk away with a boost to their positive feelings about themselves, a vital ingredient of self-confidence.

Click here to see other games and activities for boosting self-esteem and self-confidence in children.

For games and activities, you can do with very young children and toddlers, check out Aviva Patz’ piece on the Parents website here.

5 Worksheets for Adults and Students (PDF)

The tips above are great for beginning your journey towards greater self-confidence, but if you want a more structured experience you may benefit from some worksheets designed for exactly that purpose. Check out the five worksheets described below.

Strengths Exploration Worksheet

One of the best ways to boost your self-confidence is to remember what your strengths are and think about how you can use them more often. You’re almost guaranteed success when you engage in an activity or task that requires your most prominent strengths, which gives you an experience that you can sock away in your bank of self-confidence.

The worksheet instructs users to circle their strengths from the choices presented, and/or add their own unique strengths in the space at the bottom.

The listed strengths are varied and wide-ranging, and include:

  • Wisdom
  • Artistic Ability
  • Curiosity
  • Leadership
  • Self-Control
  • Humor
  • Assertiveness
  • Gratitude
  • Logic
  • Adventurousness
  • Flexibility
  • And many more!

Once you have identified your strengths, you can move on to the second portion of the worksheet: thinking about how you use your strengths in different life domains and how you could use them more often.

You will respond to three prompts in three different domains of life: relationships, profession, and personal fulfillment. The prompts are:

  1. List the strengths you possess that help you achieve [domain].
  2. Describe a specific time your strengths were able to help you with [domain].
  3. Describe two new ways you could use your strengths for [domain].

Completing this worksheet will give you some insight into what you do best, what you should do more of, and how you can better apply your unique strengths and talents to better your own life.

Click here to view or download the worksheet from the Therapist Aid website.

About Me Sentence Completion Worksheet

This worksheet is designed for children and teens, but adults should feel free to use it as well! It will help you realize some of the good things about yourself and your life, and remind you of what you excel at.

The sentence prompts are:

  1. I was really happy when…
  2. Something that my friends like about me is…
  3. I’m proud of…
  4. My family was happy when I…
  5. In school, I’m good at…
  6. Something that makes me unique is…

If you’re using this worksheet as an adult, feel free to replace “In school” with “At work” to make it more applicable to your life.

Use this worksheet when you need a reminder of what is good in you and you’ll get the little boost of self-confidence you need.

Click here to see the worksheet.

Core Beliefs Worksheet

The Core Beliefs worksheet is an excellent tool to help you realize that your thoughts may not always be grounded in reality, but that they can have a significant impact on your behavior nonetheless.

The worksheet describes core beliefs as “like a pair of sunglasses.” Depending on what “shade” you’re wearing, you will see things differently. Negative “shades” can inhibit you from taking risks and engaging in healthy behavior.

The worksheet then describes some negative core beliefs that people have, including:

  • I’m unlovable
  • I’m stupid
  • I’m boring
  • I’m not good enough
  • I’m ugly
  • I’m worthless
  • I’m a bad person
  • I’m abnormal
  • I’m undeserving

Each of these beliefs can lead to exceedingly negative thoughts and feelings about yourself, and they can influence your behavior in ways that make it difficult to reach your goals and get what you want out of life.

To help you begin challenging your negative beliefs, the worksheet leaves space for you to identify one of your negative core beliefs. Next, the most important part: you are instructed to write down three pieces of evidence that your negative core belief is false. Coming up with evidence-based reasons why your negative core belief is wrong is an excellent way to chip away at the unhelpful belief.

To give this worksheet a try, click here.

Self-Esteem Journal Worksheet

Although we’re focused on self-confidence, we know that self-esteem and self-confidence are closely related. Plus, this worksheet gives you space to write about your past successes, which is a great way to improve your beliefs in your future success.

The worksheet is a simple template for a journal with space to write about three different topics for the seven days of the week. If you don’t have a journal already, this is a good way to get started and practice positive journaling.

Each day focuses on a set of positive topics that writing about can help boost your self-confidence:

  • Monday
    o Something I did well today…
    o Today I had fun when…
    o I felt proud when…
  • Tuesday
    o Today I accomplished…
    o I had a positive experience with…
    o Something I did for someone…
  • Wednesday
    o I felt good about myself when…
    o I was proud of someone else…
    o Today was interesting because…
  • Thursday
    o I felt proud when…
    o A positive thing I witnessed…
    o Today I accomplished…
  • Friday
    o Something I did well today…
    o I had a positive experience with (a person, place, or thing)…
    o I was proud of someone when…
  • Saturday
    o Today I had fun when…
    o Something I did for someone…
    o I felt good about myself when…
  • Sunday
    o A positive thing I witnessed…
    o Today was interesting because…
    o I felt proud when…

Completing this worksheet and journaling about positive things for seven straight days will help you realize that there are so many good things that are in your life and slowly shift your perspective to look for positive things throughout your day, including positive things about yourself.

Click here to download this worksheet.

Self-Confidence Worksheet

This worksheet from the self-esteem experts Susyn Reeve and Joan Brenner can guide you in the process of building up your self-confidence.

There are three parts to this worksheet.

Part One:

Think of a situation in which you experienced confidence and a feeling of satisfaction and self-worth. Answer the following questions.

  1. What is the situation?
  2. What do you say to yourself about the situation (self-talk)?
  3. How do you feel physically? What sensations and feelings do you have in your body?
  4. What do you do as a result of this?

Part Two:

Think of a current situation in which you experienced a lack of confidence that you would like to change if you could.

  1. What is the situation?
  2. What do you say to yourself about the situation (self-talk)?
  3. How do you feel physically? What sensations and feelings do you have in your body?
  4. What do you do as a result of this?

Part Three:

Look at Part Two and using the information that you have learned about yourself in Part One, ask yourself, “When I am in this situation…”

  1. What positive statement could I say to myself to be reminded of my power?
  2. What could I do that would help me feel differently? (For example, create a visualization in which I remember how I felt in Part One)
  3. What could I do differently, next time I am in this situation? What actions would empower me?

To give this worksheet a try, click here.

Activities and Exercises for Developing Self-Confidence

Worksheets for Adults and Students (PDF) self-confidence self-belief

If you’re not a huge fan or worksheets or writing in general, there are some other activities and exercises you can do to work on your self-confidence and self-esteem.

Of course, the most important thing you can do to build your self-confidence is to get some success experiences under your belt—no matter how small—but here are some other things you can try as well.

Recognizing Negative Thoughts

Negative thoughts are so often a drain on our self-confidence, and we may not even realize it. Negative thoughts can be sneaky, so we need to be extra-vigilant in identifying and addressing them.

Practice “listening” to your own thoughts; notice the automatic thoughts that pop into your head and pay attention to the way you talk to yourself. When you notice a negative thought, grab onto it and either write it down or just sit and think about it for a moment.

Don’t spend long thinking about the thought in its current form though. Instead, spend your time thinking about how it can be rephrased and adapted to become a positive (or at least neutral) thought.

For example, if you catch yourself thinking, “You’re such a failure! You can’t do anything right!” try to replace it with a more forgiving phrase like, “Everyone makes mistakes sometimes. I bet I can do better next time!”

This replacement thought not only offers you forgiveness and compassion, it also helps you boost your belief in your ability to succeed in the future. Give it a try and see if it works for you!

Challenging Yourself

As noted several times in this piece, the best way to boost your self-confidence is to open yourself up to positive new experiences and allow yourself to succeed.

If you have low self-confidence, you probably don’t like taking risks—whether those risks involve physical activity, going for a new job or promotion, talking to someone you like, or just trying a new activity. It’s a classic catch-22: your low self-confidence encourages you to avoid doing the exact things that would help you build up your self-confidence.

If uninterrupted, this can lead to an ever-deepening spiral of self-confidence; you don’t have any exciting new successes, so your self-confidence is even lower, so you feel even less like trying new things.

To break this cycle, you know what you need to do: put yourself out there, try something new, and challenge yourself!

Find something you’re interested in and go for it. It might be a cooking class, a running group, marathon training, or volunteering for a cause you are passionate about. Whatever it is, push yourself to take a risk and watch your confidence grow.

Giving Yourself the Self-Care You Need

Self-care is incredibly important for a lot of things, but it can be especially impactful for our self-confidence.

Engage in self-care to show yourself how valuable you are, and you will feel more confident in your abilities and motivated to prove that you are right about yourself.

Remember that self-care is about much more than just getting a massage or allowing yourself to indulge in some extra-tasty food or in a Netflix binge. Make sure to take care of your body, mind, and soul by eating healthy, exercising, giving yourself a break, and engaging in whatever other self-care you need to feel good.

Practicing Accepting Failure

This isn’t an especially fun exercise to practice, but it is, unfortunately, a necessary one. We all fail at some point, and it does us absolutely no good to pretend that we don’t—or won’t—ever fail.

To practice accepting failure, engage in some activities that you know you will fail at. I know, it sounds terrible! Why would you do something when you know you will fail? Because practicing failure can be just as important as practicing success.

Take risks and set stretch goals for yourself. Sometimes you will achieve them, and sometimes you won’t. Whether you achieve them or not, make sure to tell yourself the same thing after: “You put a lot of effort into this and I’m proud of you for working hard.”

You don’t need to succeed to be proud of yourself and confident in your abilities (Coleman, 2017).

Self-Confidence Measurement Scales, Questionnaires, and Tests

If you are a researcher who is looking to measure confidence or simply an individual curious to know what “level” of self-confidence you have, you may find one of the scales described below useful.

CAPA Confidence Inventory

The CAPA (which stands for Career & Personality Assessments) Confidence Inventory, or CCI, is grounded in Bandura’s self-efficacy theory and measures self-confidence as a function of belief in one’s ability to accomplish tasks.

The inventory was created by Betz and Borgen in 2010 and includes 190 total items measuring six confidence themes across 27 vocational domains (e.g., Information Technology, Visual Arts and Design, Human Resources and Training, Accounting and Finance, Office Management, and Sales).

The six confidence themes are:

  1. Extraversion
  2. Leadership
  3. Teamwork
  4. Motivation
  5. Academic Achievement
  6. Risk Taking

Items are presented to respondents with this pre-statement before them: “Indicate your confidence in your ability to…” The items are then rated on a scale from 1 (No confidence at all) to 5 (Complete confidence).

Some sample items include:
Indicate your confidence in your ability to…

  • Communicate your ideas through writing. (Artistic/Writing item)
  • Develop a clever TV commercial. (Marketing & Advertising item)
  • Concentrate for several hours on a difficult topic. (Academic Achievement item)

You must pay a fee and/or have a membership to the CAPA website to access the CCI, but you can learn more about how to get access here.

Personality Evaluation Inventory

This scale was designed to measure confidence as a sense of competence and ability in several life domains that are relevant to college students. The Personality Evaluation Inventory, or PEI, covers a wide range of behaviors and provides a general score of self-confidence.

This scale was developed by researchers Shauger and Schohn in 1995. It contains 54 items rated on a scale from 1 (Strongly Agree) to 4 (Strongly Disagree). Items are organized in the following domains:

  • Academic
  • Appearance
  • Athletic
  • Romantic
  • Social
  • Speaking

The PEI must be purchased to see the items (you can look into purchasing it here), but researchers Stankov, Kleitman, and Jackson provide a sample item that is similar to the ones in the PEI:

“I feel more confident in my abilities than most people.”

Student Satisfaction and Self-Confidence in Learning Scale

As you probably guessed from the name, this scale was developed for nursing students to assess their level of learning- and school-related self-confidence. It was designed by researchers Jeffries and Rizzolo in 2006.

The scale consists of 13 items, 5 assessing satisfaction with current learning and 8 assessing self-confidence in learning. The items are rated on a scale from 1 (STRONGLY DISAGREE with the statement) to 5 (STRONGLY AGREE with this statement).

The items are listed below.

Satisfaction with Current Learning:

  • The teaching methods used in this simulation were helpful and effective.
  • The simulation provided me with a variety of learning materials and activities to promote my learning the medical-surgical curriculum.
  • I enjoyed how my instructor taught the simulation.
  • The teaching materials used in this simulation were motivating and helped me to learn.
  • The way my instructor(s) taught the simulation was suitable to the way I learn.

Self-Confidence in Learning:

  • I am confident that I am mastering the content of the simulation activity that my instructors presented to me.
  • I am confident that this simulation covered critical content necessary for the mastery of the medical-surgical curriculum.
  •  am confident that I am developing the skills and obtaining the required knowledge from this simulation to perform necessary tasks in a clinical setting.
  • My instructors used helpful resources to teach the simulation.
  • It is my responsibility as the student to learn what I need to know from this simulation activity.
  • I know how to get help when I do not understand the concepts covered in the simulation.
  • I know how to use simulation activities to learn critical aspects of these skills.
  • It is the instructor’s responsibility to tell me what I need to learn of the simulation activity content during class time.

As you can see, the statements are quite specific to the context for which they were developed. However, they are strong items that can be adapted for your purposes with just a bit of tweaking.

To see this scale, click here.

Academic Behavioral Confidence Scale

The Academic Behavioral Confidence Scale, or ABC, provides a measure of students’ global academic confidence, or their confidence in their ability to succeed in their academic activities. Sander and Sanders created this scale in 2003 and conducted further testing and validation on it in 2007 and 2009.

It is composed of 24 items presented with the prefix “How confident are you that you will be able to…” and rated on a scale from 1 (Not at all confident) to 5 (Very confident).

The items are divided into four subscales (Grades, Verbalizing, Studying, and Attendance), although generally, the score used by researchers is the overall score of academic confidence.

Some sample items include:
How confident are you that you will be able to:

  • Study effectively on your own in an independent/private study. (Studying factor)
  • Respond to questions asked by a lecturer in front of a full lecture theater. (Verbalizing factor)
  • Give a presentation to a small group of fellow students. (Verbalizing factor)
  • Be on time for lectures (Attendance subscale)
  • Ask lecturers questions about the material they are teaching, in a one-to-one setting. (Verbalizing factor)
  • Manage your workload to meet coursework deadlines. (Studying subscale)
  • Produce coursework at the required standards. (Grades subscale)
  • Attend most taught sessions. (Attendance subscale)
  • Produce your best work in coursework assignments. (Grades subscale)

You can find this scale at the end of Sander and colleagues’ 2011 article validating the scale in a UK sample, which can be accessed here.

Napoleon Hill’s Self-Confidence Formula

business man - self-confidence self-belief scales

If you’ve ever looked into boosting your self-confidence, you may have heard of Napoleon Hill’s formula for self-confidence before.

Napoleon Hill was one of the first business “self-help” authors, writing the hugely influential book Think and Grow Rich, which laid the foundations for the self-help literature as we know it today.

Hill created a “self-confidence formula” and published it in a set of “lessons for success” to help people realize their own abilities, set plans for a successful future, and commit to working toward that successful future.

The formula is as follows:

“First: I know that I have the ability to achieve the object of my definite purpose, therefore I demand of myself persistent, aggressive and continuous action toward its attainment.

Second: I realize that the dominating thoughts of my mind eventually reproduce themselves in outward, bodily action, and gradually transform themselves into physical reality, therefore I will concentrate My mind for thirty minutes daily upon the task of thinking of the person I intend to be, by creating a mental picture of this person and then transforming that picture into reality through practical service.

Third: I know that through the principle of Auto- suggestion, any desire that I persistently hold in my mind will eventually seek expression through some practical means of realizing it, therefore I shall devote ten minutes daily to demanding of myself the development of the factors named in the sixteen lessons of this Reading Course on the Law of Success **.

Fourth: I have clearly mapped out and written down a description of my definite purpose in life, for the coming five years. I have set a price on my services for each of these five years; a price that I intend to earn and receive, through strict application of the principle of efficient, satisfactory service which I will render in advance.

Fifth: I fully realize that no wealth or position can long endure unless built upon truth and justice, therefore I will engage in no transaction which does not benefit all whom it affects. I will succeed by attracting to me the forces I wish to use, and the co-operation of other people. I will induce others to serve me because I will first serve them.

I will eliminate hatred, envy, jealousy, selfishness and cynicism by developing love for all humanity, because I know that a negative attitude toward others can never bring me success. I will cause others to believe in me because I will believe in them and in myself.

I will sign my name to this formula, commit it to memory and repeat it aloud once a day with full faith that it will gradually influence my entire life so that I will become a successful and happy worker in my chosen field of endeavor.”

Although many have found the advice and suggestions provided by Hill’s publications useful, it must be noted that, like the philosophy promoted in the book The Secret, there is no evidence that they have any positive impact on a person’s life. The main idea in both Hill’s work and The Secret is that by thinking about what you want and “sending it out into the universe,” you can attract your desired outcomes to you.

This is generally the sort of thinking that positive psychology has tried to distance itself from, as research has made it quite clear that there is little merit in “thinking” your way to success; however, many have reported that such ideas have motivated and inspired them, and you should grab on to inspiration and motivation wherever you can find it!

Hypnosis and Hypnotherapy

You’ve certainly heard of hypnosis before, but you may not be as familiar with hypnotherapy—and you may not know what they have to do with self-confidence!

Hypnosis is an alternative treatment that is generally not practiced as a first-line approach, but it is not uncommon for a therapist to use hypnosis in cases that call for it. A lack of self-confidence can be one such case.

While CBT and other behavioral therapies can do a great job of tackling your conscious thoughts and helping you manage your feelings and behavior, we know that there is also a lot of stuff going on in your subconscious. Hypnotherapists believe that hypnosis can help treat low self-confidence by breaking into the negative things happening in your subconscious and injecting a dose of positivity.

If you’re interested in giving it a try, check out this sleep hypnosis on YouTube.

If you’re interested in trying hypnotherapy with a qualified professional, you can learn more here.

Guided Meditations to Boost Self-Confidence

If you’re a fan of meditation and would like to try some that are geared toward improving your self-confidence, these might be just what you’re looking for:

Guided Meditation: Self-Esteem from The Honest Guys

Guided Meditation for Confidence, Self Love, and a Better Self Image from Joe T at Hypnotic Labs

Healing Spirit: Guided Meditation for Self Esteem and Acceptance, Anxiety, and Depression from MeditationRelaxClub

Best 10 Minute Guided Meditation for Confidence & Self Esteem by Great Meditation

Apps for Training Self-Belief

As with just about everything else in life, there’s an app for that! These four apps can help you build your self-confidence, minute-by-minute, and day-by-day.

Confidence Coach

This app is all about helping you learn to accept yourself, love yourself, and boost your confidence in your own abilities. It was developed by two people knowledgeable in cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), and is an excellent, evidence-backed tool to help you build up your own self-confidence.


This app is an award-winning tool to help you boost your confidence, increase your self-esteem, and lead a generally happier and more grateful life.

Use this app to help you stay present and positive throughout your day. You can even use it with an Apple watch if you have one.

You can find this free app on the iTunes store at this link.

Cognitive Diary CBT Self-Help

If negative thoughts are weighing you down and inhibiting you from believing in yourself, this app can help.

It is a diary app grounded in evidence-based CBT theory and offering CBT techniques to help you nix your negative and unwanted thoughts, increase your sense of hope about life, and challenge any unhelpful core beliefs.

To download this helpful and customizable app from Google Play, click here.

Build Self-Esteem Hypnosis

If the earlier discussion of hypnosis got you curious, you might like this app.

It’s designed to help you learn to feel more self-confident and just better about yourself in general. It uses hypnosis techniques to guide you in eliminating negative self-talk and changing your default mindset.

The app is offered on the iTunes store from Surf City Apps LLC and can be downloaded for free.

Movies about Self-Confidence and Self-Belief

Movies are such a subjective experience for people that it’s hard to recommend specific ones to boost your self-confidence. In general, any movie with a theme of believing in yourself and hard work paying off is probably a good bet.

If you’re not sure what movie you would turn to in order to get a boost of confidence, consider these suggestions:

  • Working Girl (1988)
  • The Pursuit of Happyness (2006)
  • Begin Again (2013)
  • Catch Me If You Can (2002)
  • Sex and the City: The Movie (2008)
  • Clueless (1995)
  • Mean Girls (2004)
  • The Devil Wears Prada (2006)
  • Under the Tuscan Sun (2003)
  • We Bought a Zoo (2011)
  • Legally Blonde (2001)
  • Thelma & Louise (1991)
  • Beyond the Lights (2014)
  • Young Guns (1988)
  • Zootopia (2016)
  • A League of Their Own (1992)
  • Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion (1997)
  • Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt (2015 – present)

Okay, that last one’s not a movie—but it can still give you a nice boost of confidence!

Motivational Speeches and Popular TED Talks and Videos

If you’re ready to get pumped full of confidence and motivation, but you don’t have time to watch a whole feature-length movie, check out these TED Talks and inspirational speeches:

The Skill of Self Confidence by Dr. Ivan Joseph

Meet Yourself: A User’s Guide to Building Self-Esteem by Niko Everett

Success and Self-Confidence Through Rejection by Ted Ladd

Success, Failure, and the Drive to Keep Creating by Elizabeth Gilbert

The Surprising Secret to Speaking with Confidence by Caroline Goyder

The Power of Believing You Can Improve by Carol Dweck

How to Build Your Creative Confidence by David Kelley

The 8 Best Books on Self-Confidence and Self-Belief

If you’re a reader looking for a good book on self-confidence, you may find that one of these eight books give you just what you need:

  • The Power of Self-Confidence: Become Unstoppable, Irresistible, and Unafraid in Every Area of Your Life by Brian Tracy (Amazon)
  • How to Develop Self-Confidence and Influence People by Public Speaking by Dale Carnegie (Amazon)
  • Self-Confidence: How to be Confident and Improve Your Self-Image by Katy Richards (Amazon)
  • Thriving with Social Anxiety: Daily Strategies for Overcoming Anxiety and Building Self-Confidence by Hattie C. Cooper and Kyle MacDonald (Amazon)
  • Confidence: How to Overcome Your Limiting Beliefs and Achieve Your Goals by Martin Meadows (Amazon)
  • The Ultimate Secrets of Total Self-Confidence: A Proven Formula That Has Worked for Thousands by Robert Anthony (Amazon)
  • Self-Confidence: The 21-Day Self-Confidence Challenge: An Easy and Step-by-Step Approach to Overcome Self-Doubt & Low Self-Esteem and Start Developing Solid Self-Confidence by 21 Day Challenges (Amazon)
  • Self Confidence: Unleash Your Hidden Potential and Breakthrough Your Limitations of Confidence by Bill Andrews (Amazon)

19 Quotes and Affirmations on Self-Confidence

If you’re looking for some inspirational quotes or motivating affirmations to help you boost your self-confidence, check out this list of 19 quotes and affirmations.

“A great figure or physique is nice, but it’s self-confidence that makes someone really sexy.”

Vivica A. Fox

“One important key to success is self-confidence. An important key to self-confidence is preparation.”

Arthur Ashe

“Nothing builds self-esteem and self-confidence like accomplishment.”

Thomas Carlyle

“To excel at the highest level—or any level, really—you need to believe in yourself, and hands down, one of the biggest contributors to my self-confidence has been private coaching.”

Stephen Curry

“With realization of one’s own potential and self-confidence in one’s ability, one can build a better world.”

Dalai Lama

“Self-confidence is the first requisite to great undertakings.”

Samuel Johnson

“Smile, for everyone lacks self-confidence and more than any other one thing a smile reassures them.”

Andee Maurios

“The way to develop self-confidence is to do the thing you fear and get a record of successful experiences behind you.”

William Jennings Bryan

“My self-confidence didn’t come from my appearance, it came from other things that I did. But certainly not my appearance.”

Alex Spanos

“I’ve studies the lives of the 20th century’s great businessmen and concluded that self-confidence was instrumental in all their success.”

Ron Perlman

“Once we believe in ourselves, we can risk curiosity, wonder, spontaneous delight, or any experience that reveals the human spirit.”

E.E. Cummings

“Because one believes in oneself, one doesn’t try to convince others. Because one is content with oneself, one doesn’t need others’ approval. Because one accepts oneself, the whole world accepts him or her.”

Lao Tzu

If these quotes don’t quite hit the spot, you may benefit from creating some self-confidence affirmations. You can also create your own, but these are some good examples that can help get you started:

  • “I am smart, competent, and capable.”
  • “I am growing and changing for the better.”
  • “I believe in myself and my abilities.”
  • “I can do anything I set my mind to.”
  • “I act with confidence and with a plan, but I accept that plans can change.”
  • “It is enough to have done my best.”
  • “I have the power to change myself.”

A Take-Home Message

I hope you found this piece a useful and informative dive into self-confidence and self-belief. It turns out that Henry Ford was mostly right—although self-confidence isn’t necessary to function in our world, it can make all the difference between “just getting by” and thriving!

If you found any of these exercises, suggestions, worksheets, or activities useful, bookmark this page so you can come back to it at any time and remind yourself that you can do it—whatever it is!

What are your thoughts on this topic? Do you think self-confidence is the key to success? How do you give yourself a boost of confidence when you need it? Let us know in the comments section!

Thanks for sticking with me to the end of this long piece. I hope you had some fun and came away with at least a bit more confidence in yourself and your abilities!

We hope you enjoyed reading this article. Don’t forget to download our 3 Self Compassion Exercises for free.


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  • Lodgson, A. (2018). Develop self-esteem with interactive games. VeryWell Family. Retrieved from
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What our readers think

  1. Nicola Mann

    Thank you so much for articulating your thoughts on each blog so well!

  2. Phil Fine

    For inspiration, you can do better than choose Henry Ford. Not only was the guy an ignoramus, but he was a notorious anti semite, as well as a philanderer.

    • Nicole Celestine, Ph.D.

      Hi Phil.

      In the context of this article, which is about the Self, believing in your abilities and building your confidence, the quote mentioned is intended to inspire.

      Despite the negativities that may be attributed to the person himself, we choose to appreciate the words of encouragement and focus on that, and not necessarily the person, as a means to encourage others. We wish all our readers to see and appreciate the goodness within themselves, and build on that, rather than focus on the faults of others and break them down.

      In regards to your comment, we do not wish to debate or negate your views, however we can only encourage you to see the quote for the positivity that it conveys.

      – Nicole | Community Manager

  3. Bhakti Rajai

    Thank you so so so much

  4. Crystal Cummings

    I found this article to be very helpful and i learned alot of good things to say to myself to build my self worth.I also loved the games to play with children to boost their self esteem.I loved it,and found it to be well worth my time.Thank you

  5. Nicki Whitehead

    Thank you so much for this brilliant in-depth article. I was in a roadblock – stuck so much and didn’t know why. I have just learnt such a lot to turn myself around for both my business and my relationship.
    I feel happier than I have for months!!

    • Graciela Moore

      Hello Nicki,

      I’m super inspired by your comment and when I saw the date, my heart fluttered and I instantly wanted to check in on you. I’m an ICF Certified Life Coach and just want to say, how are you?

  6. Atul Kelkar

    A fantastic read. Will surely use some of the material when i am training people and needless to say will give you credit and acknowledgement for it.

  7. M.S.Shekar

    a good in-depth article with clarity. I could get a lot of clarification. Thanks for sharing

  8. Gurdeep

    One of the most amazing and in – depth article I ever read.

  9. Lori

    Very useful information. Thank you!


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